Living All the Decades

Sometime around 1999 I heard about a British television series called 7 Up. It got started in 1964, and the premise was to take a group of about twenty 7 year olds and interview them. They were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, what they thought of the opposite sex, and what they thought about politics. The show was originally an exploration of the famous Aristotle, “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”

I was 21 by the time I heard about the series. I remember binge watching ages 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35. A few years later, I got to see 42 Up when it was accessible to American audiences. The show immediately gave me a preview of what was coming in life. I remember watching the first couple 42 year olds grappling with the death of their parents, and I knew “this too is coming for me.” And so when my mom passed away in 2009, it was certainly emotional, but the show somehow prepared me that this is a  universally human phenomenon and I wasn’t alone.

One of the theories I’ve since developed is that you can have a primitive form of time travel in life. You can play with Legos for an afternoon and be a kid again. You can go to a Van Morrison concert and live in your parents generation as a 50 or 60 year old. A trip to Vegas can be a bit like being a 20 year old in a fraternity or sorority. For those that grew up in dysfunctional families, the 20s are often a time of healing and self development. In your 30s you figure out what habits you want to settle into, and which social norms you want to rebel against.

While it’s important to be your own age and live in the moment, it’s also true that at any given moment all the decades of life are accessible to you.

Watching 63 Up this week, and also seeing the popular appeal of FaceApp has got me thinking about Living All the Decades again this week. It’s fun to take an active role in balancing the portfolio of experiences you live in life.

Startup Links

Two great startup reads hit our radar since we last wrote.

Justin Kan of Atrium offers several helpful tips about Debugging Your Startup. None of the best practices are shocking, but when things aren’t clicking it’s helpful to have a checklist in front of you for the most likely things to consider.

Jamie McGurk of Andreessen Horowitz has a great post All About Direct Listings. For companies like Slack who don’t necessarily need the capital infusion, much less the headache of a roadshow, this is a route to have in your back pocket.